Rest in Peace, Columbo

I’ve been dreading the time when I had to say goodbye to my old feline friend, Columbo. Alas that time was today.

Sometime during the night Columbo had some sort of a seizure.  When he didn’t jump on my bed first thing this morning, I thought something might be wrong and when I got downstairs I found him in a state of total collapse in his basket. He was breathing, but cold to the touch. His eyes were open, but he clearly wasn’t seeing anything. His legs were twisted as if they had suddenly crumpled underneath him. Thinking it might be a hypoglycemic attack, I squirted into his mouth some of the syrup I keep for such emergencies. Normally this would cause a quick recovery, but although he did start moving he was clearly in a bad way, lying on one side with his back leg drawn up. I waited by his side for the recovery to come, but it didn’t. He just became more and more agitated, paddling his legs and crying in discomfort.

I got him to the vet’s and they checked his blood sugar, which was fine, suggesting that it wasn’t hypoglycemia behind the problem. They put him on oxygen, but as they checked him out he had another seizure. The vet said he had almost certainly had a stroke at home and then probably another one as they examined him. If that was the correct diagnosis, then his prognosis for recovery was very poor.

Given that, and the obvious fact that, although not fully conscious, he was clearly extremely  distressed,  I felt I had to take the decision to have him put to sleep (although I found great difficulty in saying the words).  The vet was very kind, and gave us a few minutes alone. She said she was sure this was the right decision. I signed a consent form and when the time came he passed away quietly as I stroked him. My old friend was gone, the last of his lives used up.

I knew Columbo wasn’t going to live forever, but that didn’t make it any easier. I had hoped he would pass away peacefully at home, rather than on the vet’s table, but I don’t think he really knew much about what was going on during his last hours, so hopefully he didn’t suffer too much.

I’m not going to try to explain how much I’ll miss Columbo. Cat-lovers, especially those who met him, will understand. Others will just think I’m a sentimental old fool. It doesn’t matter. He’s been a part of me for over 17 years, in London, Nottingham and in Cardiff. He’s put up with me far longer than any human being ever has. And now he’s no more. The house seems dreadfully empty already.

If I don’t post much for a while, I hope you’ll understand why.

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44 Responses to “Rest in Peace, Columbo”

  1. I am so sorry to hear this. Reading your post I honestly felt dreadful inside. I have a cat and I can’t even imagine how you must feel. I am so sorry.

  2. Ian Douglas Says:

    Very sorry to hear that.

  3. David Whitehouse Says:

    I am very sorry to hear this. Condolences.

  4. Bryn Jones Says:

    I’m very sorry. The loss of a pet is often a very sad and distressing event. I offer my sympathy.

  5. Very sorry, Peter. Difficult to lose a companion like that…

  6. Will Grainger Says:

    Very sorry to hear this.

  7. Anton Garrett Says:

    Beautiful Columbo, I’m so sorry to hear it and I too will miss his feline character when I visit.

  8. Yvonne Nobis Says:

    I’m really sorry,
    Yvonne

  9. Really sorry to hear about Columbo. We had to put our cat to sleep not too long ago. It’s a merciful act, but never an easy one.

  10. John Peacock Says:

    Peter: I’m very sorry for you. If you’re a sentimental old fool, then so am I. We lived with a pair of cats for 18 years, and saying goodbye in the vets was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. That was 2002, and it still hurts. We now have a dog nearing 18, and I know that awful day will soon come again. But we steel ourselves for this because we love them, and want to spare them suffering. Isn’t it odd that people are often treated less well?

    • telescoper Says:

      John,

      I wouldn’t say I was very successful at steeling myself. I wept buckets, and am very grateful to the vet for allowing me to leave through the back instead of going out through the reception. Knowing it’s the right thing to do doesn’t make it any easier.

      Peter

  11. Robert Simpson Says:

    Dreadfully sad news. So hard to lose a friend, of any species.

  12. Commiserations, I have had to take two well loved, long standing feline friends for the same one-way trip to the vet in the past few years. Its hard and it still hurts to think about either occasion.

    Nature is cruel, cats included (my present pair love nothing more than trying to launch half dead mice into low earth orbit). At least we can show kindness by not making our pets suffer unnecessarily.

  13. sorry to hear that. There’s a real bond that some folks can’t understand. It’ll get better with time.

  14. We had pets (a cat and a dog) when I was growing up, although I’ve never owned one as an adult. Losing them is like losing a friend. I’m sad for your loss Peter.

  15. Very sorry to hear about Columbo. Mine is nearing cat retirement age and has followed me from country to country. He’s also a right sod to everybody else except for me. I’ll be extremely sad when he goes.

  16. Losing our beloved kitties is never easy. Columbo was blessed to have you as his steward, and you were blessed to have him as your loyal companion. Thinking of you and your sweet boy.

  17. Very sorry to hear about Columbo.
    Pets are hard to lose at any time but losing a friend of 17 years must be so much worse. You have my condolences.

  18. Daniel Mortlock Says:

    Very sorry to hear about Columbo, Peter. Through a combination of your evocative updates and my own love of cats I felt I kind of knew him as well, even though I never got the chance to give him a quick pat or a head scratch. Can only imagine how much you’ll miss him, but I get the impression he had a very happy and long life as your companion.

    Condolences and best wishes,
    Daniel

  19. I’m so sorry Peter. I enjoyed every picture and story about Columbo. Wanting a pet cat, and not being in a position to own a one right now, they let me be a cat owner by proxy. I think he will be missed by a lot of your readers, but certainly by myself.

    From what you’ve written about him, I think he was a very happy cat, and you made a lot of good memories together. I think that’s the best outcome you can ever hope for with a cat.

    Very sorry for your loss.

  20. Andrew Liddle Says:

    Dear Peter,

    Very sad news. I always enjoyed reading the updates on his various escapades, even though I met him only once in Nottingham (having a fight with a cardboard box, and maybe not even winning it).

    Best wishes,

    Andrew

  21. telescoper Says:

    I’m devastated to have lost Columbo, and have found today extremely difficult to get through – all the little reminders of him around the house have brought flood after flood of tears.

    But I really am touched by so many kind messages. They really mean a lot to me. Thank you, everyone.

  22. :( – Very sorry to hear of your loss.

  23. Sorry Peter. I know how you feel. My last cat died when I was 15. He was run over by a car but waited for me to come home to physically die in my arms. It’s 20 years later until I found the courage to have another cat called Woofie. Colombo was a handsome looking fella and he’s lucky to have had a friend like you. My Woofie is only 18 months old and he jumps on my bed in the morning too. I’m gonna miss Colombo’s adventures his cute and sometimes grumpy little face.

  24. Anton Garrett Says:

    “Cat-lovers, especially those who met him, will understand.”

    Yes.

  25. As a longtime lurker on this blog, I’m very sorry to hear this. Losing a pet cat is horribly painful. It sounds like he had a long and happy life though, which is the greatest gift we can hope to give a pet.

    I’ll greatly miss reading about him and his adventures.

  26. Monica Grady Says:

    Dear Peter
    I am so sorry. I am facing similar with my 20yr old cat, dreading the day. A tough time for you, but am sure you have lots of happy memories.
    with love
    Mon
    x

  27. Chris North Says:

    Really sorry to hear about Columbo. Though I never met him, he sounds like quite a character. I know just how much of a companion and friend a cat can be.

    Chris and Gabi

  28. Sorry to hear this. We went through something similar a month or so back when A’s 18 year old, diabetic cat passed on.

  29. Hi Peter,

    I have two aging but wonderful feline companions and am dreading the day you have just experienced. I know I’ll be in a mess when they pass because it’s already happened a couple of times, one a few years ago and a kitten I had to have put down when only a few months old. The two that share my life have been with me most of the time I’ve lived here which I think will make things even harder when the day comes.

    There is nothing quite like the companionship and unconditional love pets give us and think this is why it’s sometimes even harder to deal a pet’s death than a human friend leaving us.

    It’ll take time and I hope your friends and colleagues will understand what loss you have just suffered, but also hope you realise what a wonderful life Columbo had, because of you, and that soon you’ll be smiling remembering what joy he gave you over the years.

    Tom

  30. Desperately sad news. My condolences.
    John

  31. Nick Cross Says:

    I am sorry to hear this news Peter. All my sympathies.

  32. Perhaps it says something good about the world that this post has drawn so many comments. In any case, my sympathies.

    “all the little reminders of him around the house have brought flood after flood of tears”

    That reminded me of this short-short story by Strindberg. Some Googling produced this English translation which appears to be reasonably good, though the English title doesn’t have the proper ring to my ears. I’ve never run across a better description of such a difficult situation which gets all the emotions just right.

  33. So sorry to hear of your loss Peter.

  34. Phil Uttley Says:

    Very sorry to hear about your loss, from a fellow cat (and dog) lover.

  35. Garret Cotter Says:

    Oh Peter. I’m so sorry.

  36. I am so very sorry to hear this Peter. I always enjoyed reading your updates about Columbo, even though I never met him. He sounded like a wonderful companion. We are cat people, and have gone through a very similar experience more than once, including being led the quiet way out of the vet’s through a flood of tears. It’s an awful experience, only slightly ameliorated by knowing you did the right thing for your friend. Will be thinking of you.

  37. My condolences, Peter. I well know the flood of tears leaving the vet after putting down beloved dogs and cats over the years.

    I have found this comforting in times of grief, I hope it brings some measure of comfort to you.

    Patrick, a sentimental old fool

    Beannacht
    (“Blessing”)

    On the day when
    the weight deadens
    on your shoulders
    and you stumble,
    may the clay dance
    to balance you.

    And when your eyes
    freeze behind
    the grey window
    and the ghost of loss
    gets in to you,
    may a flock of colours,
    indigo, red, green,
    and azure blue
    come to awaken in you
    a meadow of delight.

    When the canvas frays
    in the currach of thought
    and a stain of ocean
    blackens beneath you,
    may there come across the waters
    a path of yellow moonlight
    to bring you safely home.

    May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
    may the clarity of light be yours,
    may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
    may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
    And so may a slow
    wind work these words
    of love around you,
    an invisible cloak
    to mind your life.

    ~ John O’Donohue ~

  38. Oh Peter — deepest condolences.

  39. Grumpy Old Woman Says:

    I’m so very sorry.

  40. I was told by Anton about your loss Peter and I am really sorry.

  41. Anastasia Niarchou Says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss Peter. My condolences.

  42. [...] at least given me the right frame of mind to write something about my dear departed Columbo, who passed away on 1st August. Was it really so long [...]

  43. [...] a year to the day since my old feline friend Columbo passed away. I still miss him, and have indeed felt his absence [...]

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